Fairfield police to release more information on officer-involved shooting

Fairfield’s 20 marked police vehicles will have new in-vehicle cameras installed.

Combined ShapeCaption
Fairfield’s 20 marked police vehicles will have new in-vehicle cameras installed.

Butler County prosecutor said case will be presented to grand jury after BCI’s investigation.

Fairfield Police reported it will release some information on Sunday’s officer-involved shooting this afternoon.

The shooting is the third officer-involved shooting since 2016 when the department began utilizing body-worn cameras. Police said the incident where a man standing on Port Union Road on Sunday afternoon was shot by a Fairfield officer was recorded.

Some public records are expected to be released today, including the officer’s name, said Fairfield Maj. Becky Ervin. It’s uncertain at this time if any body-worn camera footage will be released.

Police were called out at about 3:45 p.m. Sunday to the 3300 block of Port Union to investigate a 911 hang-up call. The officer found the man, who has not yet been identified, standing in the road. The officer attempted to engage him in conversation.

During the interaction, the officer observed a firearm in the man’s hand and ordered him to drop the weapon multiple times. He refused, according to police.

The man assumed a shooting stance and pointed the weapon at the officer. In response, the officer fired several rounds from their handgun, striking the man.

Other officers arriving on the scene began life-saving measures and called for paramedics. The man was taken to an area hospital where he is stable. No officers were injured during the incident.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI) was contacted and began an investigation of the incident. The Fairfield Police Department has placed the officer involved in the incident on administrative leave while BCI investigates the case.

Fairfield reported the officer’s body-worn camera was recording during the incident, but it’s unknown when any footage will be released as it must first be reviewed.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser’s standing policy since taking office has been to present all officer-involved shootings to a grand jury. The prosecutor said the case will be presented to a grand jury “as soon as BCI completes its investigation.”

“On my recommendation on all of these cases, (departments) immediately get an outside agency, in this case, it’s BCI, they’re the best at it,” Gmoser said. “They were here within hours (from Columbus) and started their process and investigation.”

The prosecutor said he believes BCI’s investigation is close to being concluded and expects the agency to wrap up next week. Once BCI completes its investigation, Gmoser said he will set the case immediately for grand jury consideration.

Since the start of the year, there have been nearly three dozen officer-involved shootings in Ohio, and Sunday’s incident was the second in Butler County. In February, five Monroe police officers were involved in an officer-involved shooting where Dustin Booth was shot to death. The Butler County Prosecutor’s Office said the Monroe shooting was justified.

This is the third officer-involved shooting in Fairfield since the department began using body-worn cameras. They began using them in 2016 as a pilot project and signed a five-year contract in 2017. The department just signed a second five-year contract to continue using body cameras.

Fairfield has had officer-involved shooting incidents in July 2018 and March 2020, where both cases were taken to the grand jury for consideration. The grand jury cleared the officers involved in both cases.

Fairfield Police Chief Steve Maynard talked to the Journal-News last week about body-worn cameras, saying the captured footage in 2018 and 2020 was able to corroborate what officers said took place. While they are a tool in transparency, the chief said they don’t capture everything as they only record “the scene as it unfolded in front of the officers.”